Forum member Scott S. (Sunbuilder) has built a sweet long-range varminter based on the 6.5×47 Lapua cartridge necked down to 6mm and then improved to 40 degrees, with slightly less body taper. Scott tells us that “improving the case adds about 2.0 grains to the case capacity”. This allows Scott to run the 103-108gr bullets at well over 3100 fps, with no pressure issues. Scott calls his Improved case a “Long Dasher”, a name suggested by Dave Kiff of Pacific Tool & Gauge.
6-6.5×47 Improved Works Well with Many Powders
Scott’s 6-6.5×47 Lapua Improved varmint rifle features a Stiller Diamondback action, Lilja 30″ 8-twist barrel, Richard Franklin stock, and a NightForce 8-32×56 NXS. Scott has had excellent success — his two longest groundhog hits were at 778 and 810 yards. Scott has tested many powders with his 6-6.5×47 wildcat: “I tried several powders (H4350, N160, N560, H4831sc), and primers (CCI 450, BR4, Rem 7 1/2, Fed 205Ms). I got better velocity with H4350, but my barrel likes the N160. I did find a [high-speed] node with H4350. The increased velocity potential of this cartridge is partially due to the slightly increased case capacity. The load I am shooting now is 40.5gr N160, Berger 105gr Match BT, .010″ jam, CCI BR4, .002″ neck tension at 3115 fps. This has an ES under 15 fps, and it will group under 2″ at 500 yards if conditions hold. This ‘Long Dasher’ (6-6.5×47) seems to have a lot of potential (and that’s an understatement).”
A Better Mount for the Spotter and Rangefinder
Scott designed and fabricated a very slick set-up to hold his Zeiss spotting scope and Leica CRF RangeFinder. He’s built a combo bracket that holds both units rock steady, with a parallel line of sight (same axis and elevation). Smart. Very smart. Scott explains: “I built a mount to connect my rangefinder to my spotting scope. The mount can be adjusted, so the spotting scope and rangefinder are both centered on the same object. The only way I have found to get repeatable long-range readings is to make them from a stable base.” Scott, we think you’ve got a winner here with your innovative and clever design.
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Some people love tuners and others hate them. I use them on my rifles and I’ve had more than one person ask me why on earth I would put one of those things on my barrel. I’ve even had a national long range champion tell me to unscrew it and throw it into Lake Erie on my next trip to the pits at Camp Perry. However, there are other shooters that swear by them and have many match wins to back it up.
It’s an indisputable fact that tuners do have an effect on a rifle’s accuracy, however how much is somewhat open for debate. The large heavy target barrels that we use for benchrest or f-class may not be affected as much by a tuner as a lighter weight sporter type barrel. Each barrel that I’ve installed a tuner on not only showed improvement in accuracy but also displayed a wider load window. The increased accuracy is because of the ability to adjust the tuner to the load, however I believe the wider load window is due to the added weight of the tuner slowing down the barrel vibrations. These are both very important aspects of having a very accurate rifle.
While better accuracy and a wider load window are two areas of improvement, I believe the most important feature of a tuner is the ability to adjust the tune during the middle of a match. This is especially important during matches where you must load all your ammo earlier and cannot make adjustments to the load during the match. If you happen to miss the load, instead of having to deal with a gun that isn’t shooting you can make an adjustment to the tuner and hopefully improve the accuracy of the rifle.
While I’ve laid out several ways that a tuner can help, there are also a few ways that tuners can cause problems. They add weight so if you are shooting a discipline that has weight limits on the rifle, you may not be able to install a tuner and still make weight. Sometimes, a barrel just doesn’t show improvement with a tuner installed. These are few and far between, but it is something to consider. If you make an adjustment to the tuner in a match, you need to make sure you move it in the right direction. Adjusting a tuner in the wrong direction can cause very large groups. And finally, if they aren’t tightened properly, tuners can come loose during firing which will cause a lot of problems as well.
As you can see, tuners have both positive and negative aspects. In my personal experience, the positives far outweigh the negatives so I will continue to use them on all of my competitive rifles. If you’ve been thinking about installing a tuner, hopefully some of the information that I’ve presented will help you make an informed decision.
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Over the years, noted gunsmith and a Benchrest Hall-of-Fame inductee Thomas ‘Speedy’ Gonzalez has learned a few things about “tuning” rear sandbags for best performance. On his Facebook page, Speedy recently discussed how sand bag fill levels (hard vs. soft) can affect accuracy. Speedy says you don’t want to have both your front and rear sandbags filled up ultra-hard. One or the other bag needs to have some “give” to provide a shock-absorbing function (and prevent stock jump).
SAND BAGS & HOW TO FILL THEMby Speedy Gonzalez
I was asked several times by competitors at the S.O.A. Matches and F-Class Nationals as to how I fill my sand bags for benchrest competition. Here is a copy of a reply I gave several years ago:
Back in the old days, about the time Fred Flintstone was still alive, I worked for Pat McMillan for free, from time to time to learn all his secrets. One day little Speedy was filling some new sand bags out behind Pat’s shop, stuffing them with more sand than Taco Bell put beans in their Burritos. When Pat stepped out the back door and inquired as to what in the hell was I doing packing them there bags the way I was.
I looked up at him with eyes like a kid with his hands in a cookie jar. My reply must have sounded like Homer Simpson “Doooh”. Finally I said “I don’t know, Boss. I just thought you were supposed to fill these babies up and go shoot. I got that ‘You dumb bastard look’ from Pat and I knew it was lecture time. This was what he told me:
You can not have two bags filled so hard that you gun bounces on them in the process of firing round at your target, especially if you have a rig with a very flexible stock. The bags must be set up in a manner for them to absorb the initial shock of the firing pin moving forward and igniting the primer. Then [they must] maintain their shape and absorb the second shock wave as well the rearward thrust and torque of the rifle. What happens to the rifle when this is not done? Well let me tell you. The rifles have a very bad tendency to jump and roll in the bags. This causes many of those wild, lost shots that one can’t explain.
Charles Huckaba, Ken Terrell, Larry Baggett, Ralph Stewart and some of us Texas shooters talk about this phenomena quite often. We have all agreed that:
1: You can not have two hard bags [i.e. both front AND rear] in your set-up.
2: Heavy sand magnifies these phenomena.
3: If you are a bag squeezer, pack ears hard and leave bag pliable enough to squeeze for the movement required. You may pack front bag as hard as rules permit.
4: Free recoil shooters pack both bags firm, but not so hard as to allow stock jump. Especially if you have a stock with a very flexible forearm.
5: We use play-ground sand, also know as silica sand. I sift mine to get any large impurities out then mix it with 25% to 50% with Harts parakeet gravel to the desired hardness that I am looking for. The bird gravel keeps the sand from packing itself into that solid as a brick state.
Speaking of bricks — another thing that happens when shooters employ that heavy zircon sand is the ears form a low spot under them from recoil and then tend to rock back and forth with the rifle causing many low shots to crop up. Edgewood makes an Edgewood/Speedy rear bag specially reinforced under the ears to eliminate this scenario.
One last note –If you use the Cordura bags keep them sprayed with a good silicon spray or “Rain-Ex”. This keeps them from getting sticky. Hey guys, try that and see if it helps. — Speedy
P.S.: I do not like the solid double-stitched leather bottoms. While this seems like a good idea, I see more shooters have problems because of them. They tend to slide around the bench and or slide with the rifle on recoil. The standard Protektor with Cordura rabbit ears and an Otto ring bag with a Cordura front would be what I would suggest to the new shooter or one of the Edgewood / Speedy rear bags, these mimic the “Donut” and feature a ring of leather around the bottom circumference that keep the bottom from rocking on the bench or ground if that is where you reside these days…
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This video from Brownells talks about a the crown of a barrel and how the crown’s condition affects accuracy. As the bullet leaves the barrel of the gun, the shape, alignment and the condition of the crown can affect the accuracy of your shot. A proper crown is essential to ensure that the bullet leaves the barrel correctly and that the propellant gasses behind the bullet are distributed evenly on firing. A square crown without burrs and a smooth transition will normally ensure consistency from shot to shot. By contrast, a damaged crown can cause unpredictable flyers that open your group. That’s why it’s important to have perfect crowns on all your barrels.
The video explains the different types of crowns that can be used. In addition, the video shows how you can chamfer your muzzle in a home shop. If you use a properly-sized pilot, cutting a shallow chamfer is something that most guys with some mechanical skill can handle. Just be sure to use lubricant, flush chips, and don’t rush the job. Cutting the barrel is another matter. At the 1:20 mark the video shows how to use a hack-saw to remove a damaged muzzle section. While this may be fine for an inexpensive rifle that needs a “quick fix”, we do NOT recommend using a hack-saw with a vise for a competition barrel. The reason is that it is too easy for a novice to produce a cut that is not square. We suggest letting a professional gunsmith cut and crown your competition barrels.
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When you look at a loading manual with load data, you will usually see pressure ratings for stated load. Sometimes these are listed in PSI numbers, which most people correctly understand to be Pounds per Square Inch of pressure. However, powder-makers also commonly list pressure in CUP numbers. CUP stands for Copper Unit of Pressure. You may be asking — “What exactly is a CUP, and what is the origin of that unit of measurement?” You may also be wondering — “What’s the difference between CUP pressures and PSI pressures?” On Hodgdon’s Facebook Page, you’ll find answers to these questions.
Q: What is CUP?
A: Copper Unit of Pressure (CUP) is a measurement used in the ammunition industry to determine the chamber pressure created by a cartridge load. Originally, a precisely formed copper slug was placed in a fixture over the chamber. When the cartridge was fired, the amount of crushing measured on the slug allowed engineers to determine the pressure.
These days, modern electronic transducers provide faster, more accurate measurements of chamber pressures in pounds per square inch (PSI). CUP and PSI are measured to different scales and are NOT interchangeable.
Hodgdon Reloading Data Center Sample
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Guys — we’ve said this before — NRA firearms insurance requires activation!! Coverage is not automatic. If you do not activate your insurance, you can’t claim coverage. Activate Now. The article below explains how….
Are you an NRA member? Think you have $2500 ArmsCare insurance coverage for your firearms, as a benefit of membership? Well there’s a catch. If you fail to ACTIVATE your NRA insurance, your claim will almost certainly be rejected if you suffer a loss. The NRA insurance webpage states:
“As a benefit provided by the National Rifle Association, [members] are automatically eligible for $2,500 ArmsCare Firearm Insurance. This firearms coverage … must be activated to take effect.”
Many NRA members are not aware of the activation requirement. That’s not surprising, as there’s no mention of this in many NRA membership solicitations. While the activation clause is disclosed in printed materials mailed to members, we bet that a large percentage of NRA members are not aware that their NRA insurance is essentially useless until “activated”. Just signing up for an NRA membership (and paying the dues) is not enough. You must activate the insurance or your claims can be rejected. Even if you have been a dues-paying NRA member for decades, you need to activate your insurance.
This is the real deal. Forum members (with current, active NRA memberships) have had recent gun loss claims rejected because they had not “activated” their NRA insurance. Don’t suffer the same fate. If you are an NRA member, you should activate your ArmsCare insurance right now. Don’t delay. Your NRA ArmsCare insurance won’t become effective until you activate it!
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Hearing loss can be progressive and irreversible. If you are a shooter, this is serious business. You need to use effective hearing protection every time you go to the range. Even if you are away from the firing line, gunshot noises can damage your hearing. Good foam earplugs costs mere pennies but they can prevent deafness in your later years. Many folks also wear muffs over plugs. Some other shooters prefer the custom-molded ear plugs. Electronic muffs can be useful when you are away from the firing line because they allow you to converse.
Here are some comments from Forum members on the subjects of hearing loss and the need for proper ear protection. You can join the discussion in this FORUM THREAD:
“If you are young and don’t want to end up with profound hearing loss like I have… ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS use hearing protection. This is from a guy who is social security/medicare eligible, has two Re-Sound aids at a not so cheap $2000.00 EACH… and now has religion! When I was young [we] never wore ear gear and laughed at the ringing after 100 rounds of 12 gauge at the skeet range. Now we live with the consequences. Be smarter than I was!” — Gary0529
“Take it from a 70-year-old that has been shooting 49 years. I now have a Re-Sound hearing aid in the left ear and a Cochlear Implant in my right. I still cannot hear. Custom molded plugs are best. Some are sold at gun shows and some are made by the folks that make hearing aids. They are cheap as compared to this $200,000 implant. DO IT NOW for everyone around guns.” — Richard King, King’s Armory
“Say WHAT? You have to type a little louder! I used to shoot without any muffs, when I was ‘young and indestructible’, and now I have about 40% loss. When I take youngsters and friends shooting, they get muffs and plugs. I’m not allowed suppressors where I live. I would use them if I could.” — Josh B.
“For what it’s worth, I wear both ear plugs and muffs that have NO sound adjustment capability. As a youngster (15) I wore no ear protection either in shooting or motorcycle riding. I kept doing that until entering military service at age 18 where we had to wear ear plugs at the range. Started wearing ear plugs after that, except when motorcycle riding. At around age 53 my hearing started going south as a result of my own stupidity as a youngster and now some 15 years later I only have about 45% of my hearing left. So beware all — there is a price to pay if you don’t protect your hearing.” — Shynloco
“Here are several points to consider:
1. The NRR (noise reduction rating) is determined by “experimenter” fit, not user fit, and trained listeners during the testing period. This results in inflated protection numbers compared to real-world protection.
2. Any disruptions in the protector/skin seal will greatly reduce the effectiveness. Think eye glass temple bars, lots of hair, ear wax, etc. A 5% leak results in a 50% reduction in effectiveness.
3. Double protection gives only 5-10 dB extra protection.
4. Bone conduction gives about 50 dB protection so hearing protectors are the weak link[.]
5. Keep the protectors in/on your ears. Over 8 hours, if you remove them for only 30 minutes (cumulative), the effective protection is cut in half.
So, if you are using a really good muff with NRR of 33 and a foam plug with NRR of 27, the real-world NRR would be about 35 dB, at best. This would attenuate a gunshot by that amount. The key is time versus exposure. Limit the exposure and you limit the dose.” — DelS
“Personally, I use Etymotic Research GSB-15 electronic blast protectors. They are rated at 26-28 dB, but inserted correctly, with the correct fitting tip, approach 38 dB. And, they have a compressor amplifier that allows you to hear soft sounds normally and with very high fidelity. As the sound level goes up, the gain goes down till at an ambient sound pressure level of around 90 dB SPL, the gain is unity, or what comes in goes to the ear canal. However, once the sound level gets to 117dB SPL, the amplifier cannot go higher. So, if you are firing a large rifle with an impulse noise of around 160 dB SPL, your ear only hears 117 dB SPL of that for an effective attenuation of about 40 dB. RIGHT! about the same as the mastoid bone! Can’t get any better than that.
What gives me the right to say all these things? First, a BSEE as well as the graduate course in Audiology and a hearing aid dispensers license. And working in research and product development for the ear the last decade of my career.” — Norm Matzen
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Here is Ernie Bishop’s pride and joy, a specialty pistol nicknamed “Batman” because the black carbon-fiber stock looks like the Batmobile. This is one sophisticated handgun. Complete with scope, the Batman pistol weighs under 7.5 pounds, thanks to the ultra-light stock. The carbon stock is 6 inches wide at the fore-end, yet weighs just one pound. Ernie tells us: “This gun shoots amazing and is easy to shoot especially with my SEB MAX Rest.” Ernie adds, “The gun will soon also have a field-usable rear-grip stock so I can shoot it prone from a bipod as well.”
Click Photo to View Larger Image
The Batman pistol is chambered for the 6mm “Long Dasher”, a 6mm 40°-shouldered variant of the 6.5×47 Lapua. Ernie loads Berger 105gr Hybrid bullets pushed by Hodgdon H-4350 powder.
The gun, crafted by Eric Wallance of Nawaka Firearms, features an XP-100 action, Jewell trigger, and 15″-long, Brux 1:8″-twist barrel with aluminum muzzle brake. Interestingly, this gun does not have a traditional recoil lug. Instead, gunsmith Wallace milled out a lug from the bottom of the XP-100 action to save weight. On top of the action, the rig carries a Sightron Inc S-III 6-24X56mm scope in Kelbly rings on a custom +20 MOA rail.
Here are three FIVE-shot groups at 500 yards, shot by Ernie’s Batman pistol:
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Manners Composite Stocks produces some of the best tactical, hunting, and competition stocks you can buy. Learn more about Tom Manners’s company in an insightful Factory Tour Story in LongRangeHunting.com. Author David Fortier recently visited Kansas City, Missouri to tour the Manners Composite Stocks factory. There, Fortier found an impressive facility, with 37 employees producing stocks under the guidance of founder Tom Manners.
The history of Manners Composite Stocks is a classic American success story of dedication and hard work. Tom Manners, a competitive long-range shooter, started producing stocks at home as a hobby. Demand for stocks rose and Tom had to finance expansion. To do that, Manners sold his beloved 427 Cobra replica to purchase a mill and compressor, and pay shop rent for a year. After that initial sacrifice, business has boomed. Tom’s dedication has been rewarded. Fortier reports:
Since he expanded from working at his home, [Tom’s] business has grown by 30 to 40 percent every year. Within five years he had outgrown the shop and secured a larger facility. Business growth has continued, and when I met with him he had just added another 4,000-square-foot building. Today he has 37 employees and runs two shifts trying to keep up with orders. Over the years, his offerings have steadily grown. Some of his biggest supporters have always been George Gardner (G.A. Precision) and Marty Bordsen (Badger Ordnance). They combined and created one of his first tactical stocks, the MCS-GAT. This stock became his first piece to be torture tested. To see just how rugged it was, he took it and put it on the arms of a chair and stood on it (USMC stock test) to try to break it. The stock shrugged off the abuse, so he used it to hit softballs, without issues. He then drove over it with a truck. When this failed to harm it, he put angle iron under each end and parked the truck on it. Despite all the abuse, it never failed and therefore the MCS-GAT caught people’s attention.”
Here’s an example of world-class benchrest shooting. Charles Huckeba of Texas was the top individual shooter at the 2013 World Benchrest Championships (WBC) held near Sydney Australia in October 2013. In this video, 2013 WBC Two-Gun Overall winner Charles shoots a 1/8th MOA group at 200 yards — “a little bitty dot” as a fellow Team USA shooter observes. That’s impressive. If you can describe Huckeba’s style in a nutshell it would be “smooth, consistent, and rapid but not hurried”.
Charles also employed some unusual hardware. In the video, take a close look at the joystick on the Farley Coaxial front rest. There’s no knob at the end. In its place is a small, wood ammo caddy. Charles removed the standard knob from the handle of his Farley rest and replaced it with a home-made wood block that holds cartridges for the record target. The 10.5-lb Light Varmint rifle is chambered in 6PPC with a BAT Machine Action and a composite wood and carbon-fiber stock.
Watch Charles Huckeba Shoot 1/8 MOA, 200-yard group at World Benchrest Championships
Here is the actual 200-yard, 5-shot group Charles shot in the video. Photo (by Stuart Elliot) taken through the lens of Huckeba’s 50X March scope (reticle has 1/16th MOA Dot).
Analyzing the Fine Points — What Makes Huckeba So Good
Short-range benchrest shooter Boyd Allen saw some interesting things in Huckeba’s WBC performance, as captured on video. Boyd noticed Huckeba’s smooth gun-handling and efficient loading. But Boyd also spied some interesting equipment, including an innovative joystick “handle-caddy”.
1. Low Friction Bags — When Huckeba slid his rifle, there was very little apparent friction. The front bag features the new 3M material (ScotchLite) on the sliding surfaces. The rear Protektor bag has ears of the same low-friction material.
2. Pause Before Chambering — While he was watching the flags and deciding when to start firing, Charles kept his first round in the action, but out of the barrel’s chamber, probably so as not to heat the cartridge and change the round’s point of impact.
3. Ammo Caddy on Joystick Arm – Charles shoots a Right Bolt/Left Port action, so he pulls his rounds with his left hand. Note that Huckeba’s record rounds rest in a small, wood ammo caddy attached to the end of the joystick shaft. Look carefully, you’ll see the wood ammo block in place of the normal black ball at the end of the joystick. That allows Charles to pull shots with the absolute minimum of hand movement. Ingenious! Huckeba is very fast, with a great economy of motion. I believe that because his ammo was literally at hand, Charles was better able to keep his focus on aiming and the flags.
4. Smooth-Cycling BAT Action — Note how smoothly Huckeba’s action operates. When Charles lifts the bolt handle (to extract a round and cock the firing pin), this does not disturb the rifle. Likewise, as he closes the bolt, the gun doesn’t wobble. The smooth action allows Charles to hold point of aim even when shooting relatively quickly. Huckeba’s BAT action is chrome-moly steel. Some shooters believe this metal makes for a smoother action than stainless steel or aluminum.
5. Long-Wheelbase Stock — The wood and carbon fiber stock is light, long, and stiff. Yet, importantly, the stock is also well-damped. The longer-than-average stock length (with extended forearm) seems to help the gun track well without jumping or rocking. The longer forearm allows a longer “wheelbase”, effectively shifting the weight distribution rearward (less weight on the front, more weight on the rear). This places a greater share of the gun’s weight on the rear bag, as compared to a more conventional benchrest stock. Huckeba’s stock, built by Bob Scoville, is at the cutting edge of short-range benchrest design. Its light-weight balsa wood and carbon fiber construction provides a combination of stiffness and vibration damping that allows its relatively long fore-end to be fully utilized to increase the weight on the rear bag (always an issue with 10.5-pound rifles).
To learn more about this benchrest stock design, read the comments by stock-builder Bob Scoville in our PPC with Pedigree story in our Gun of the Week Archives. Bob observed:
“There is a lot more to the structure of the stocks than meets the eye. The carbon fiber skin with which I cover the stocks creates a light, tough exterior surface. However, this contributes very little to the overall performance of the stocks. The real strength and stiffness is the result of an internal beam utilizing balsa core/carbon fiber technology.
This type construction can be found in aircraft, race cars, powerboats, and sailboats. It is interesting to note, balsa has the highest strength to weight ratio of all woods and carbon fiber is one of the lowest stretch (modulus of elasticity) relative to weight of all materials. The marriage of these two materials is common in the high-performance world. Additionally, balsa is used commercially for vibration dampening and sound reduction.”
Are you bored with your “whimpy” .50 BMG? Looking for something with a little more punch? Well J.D. Jones and his team at SSK Iindustries have created a truly big boomer — the .950 JDJ. As its name implies, rifles chambered for the cartridge have a bore diameter of 0.950″ (24.13 mm). This would normally make such rifles “destructive devices” under the 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA). However, SSK obtained a “Sporting Use” exemption allowing the rifles to be sold without special restrictions as destructive devices. CLICK HERE to watch .950 JDJ being fired.
.950 JDJ Specifications
Rifle Cost: $8000.00
Ammunition Cost: $40.00 per round
Projectile Weight: 3,600 grains (more than half a pound)
Rifle Weight: Between 80 and 120 pounds
Muzzle Energy: 38,685 ft/lbs (52,450 Joules)
Momentum: 154.1 Newton-seconds
As crafted by SSK Industries, .950 JDJ rifles use McMillan stocks and very large-diameter Krieger barrels fitted with a massive 18.2-lb muzzle brakes. The ammo produced by SSK features solid 3,600 grain bullets and CNC-machined cartridge brass. It is also possible (through a lot of work), to use a 20mm cannon casing shortened and necked-down.The primer pocket is swaged out to accept a .50 cal machine gun primer. That 3,600 grain bullet is just massive — it weighs more than half a pound. The cartridge propels its 3,600 grain bullet at approximately 2,200 fps. This yields a muzzle energy of 38,685 ft-lbs and a momentum of 154.1 Newton-seconds. The energy on target (knock-down power) is comparable to WWI-era tank rounds.
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Here’s a smart, versatile new product — a large-size rifle case that does double-duty as a shooting mat. Uncle Mike’s Long Range Tactical Bag quickly and easily converts to a 78″ shooting mat. Measuring 50″ in length, with a 15″-tall main compartment, this bag is big enough to handle most tactical and F-TR rifles with optics and Harris-type bipods attached. A 30″ flip-out forward section includes a front load strap that allows shooters to pre-load the bipod legs while shooting prone.
The Long Range Shooting bag has four self-adjusting magazine pockets, which will hold magazine sizes from .223/5.56mm to .308/7.62mm. Conveniently, this new 50″-long soft case will fit inside the popular Pelican model 1750 hard case (for those situations where you need greater protection).
Fits Long-Range and Tactical rifles up to 49″ in length
Fold out front section has bi-pod front load strap
Four self-adjusting magazine pockets
Fits inside a Pelican 1750 hard case
Tough 1000D nylon with waterproof backing
Opens up into 30″ x 78″ shooting mat
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